Category: System Center

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Presenting ExpertsLive

Speaking about Azure Stack at Experts Live Switzerland 2018 in Bern

Today, I am proud to announce that I am speaking at the country event of Experts Live in Switzerland. Experts Live Switzerland 2018 will take place at the 3rd of May in the new Workspace Welle 7 in ​Bern Switzerland. Experts Live Switzerland is a one day event with 17 session in three parallel tracks focusing on Microsoft Cloud, Datacenter and Workplace Management topics, with Microsoft MVPs, speakers from Microsoft and other industry experts.

I was already speaking at Experts Live US 2018, Experts Live Australia 2017 and of course Experts Live Europe 2017. As always, I am really looking forward to this country event of the Experts Live conference series. It is always a lot of fun to listen to great sessions and meet friends.

Speaking at Experts Live Switzerland 2018

I am happy to give attendees an overview about Microsoft Azure Stack:

Azure Stack - Your Cloud Your Datacenter

Microsoft released Azure Stack as a Azure appliance for your datacenter. Learn what Azure Stack is, what challenges it solves, how you deploy, manage and operate a Azure Stack in your datacenter. Learn about the features and services you will get by offering Azure Stack to your customers and how you can build a true Hybrid Cloud experience. In this presentation Thomas Maurer (Microsoft MVP) will guide you through the highly anticipated innovations and experience during the Azure Stack Early Adaption Program and Azure Stack Technology Adoption Program (TAP).

The event is limited to only 180 attendees, so make sure you reserve you ticket right now! There will be a lot of other great sessions and a lot of experts from the Microsoft Cloud community.

Some more information about the conference:

  • 1 day event
  • In the heart of Switzerland (Bern)
  • 17 sessions
  • 3 parallel tracks
  • Top Community speakers
  • limited to 180 attendees
  • Partner booths in the expo hall
  • modern location
  • focusing on Microsoft Cloud Technology



System Center

Microsoft released System Center 1801 Semi-Annual Channel

Microsoft just release the first Semi-Annual Channel release for System Center, called System Center, version 1801. This is the first release which now comes out to support the Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel releases like 1709 and also brings some new features and performance improvements.

System Center, version 1801 is the first of our Semi-Annual Channel releases delivering new capabilities at a faster cadence. Semi-Annual Channel releases have an 18-month support policy. In addition, we will continue to release in the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) at a lower frequency. The LTSC will continue to provide 5 years of mainstream support followed by 5 more years of extended support.

What’s in System Center, version 1801?

System Center, version 1801 focuses on enhancements and features for System Center Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and Data Protection Manager. Additionally, security and bug fixes, as well as support for TLS 1.2, are available for all System Center components including Orchestrator, Service Management Automation, and Service Manager.

I am pleased to share the capabilities included in this release:


  • Support for additional Windows Server features in Virtual Machine Manager: Customers can now setup nested virtualization, software load balancer configuration, and storage QoS configuration and policy, as well as migrate VMware UEFI VM to Hyper-V VM. In addition to supporting Windows Server, version 1709, we have added support for host monitoring, host management, fall back HGS, configuration of encrypted SDN virtual network, Shielded Linux VMs on Hyper-V management, and backup capabilities.
  • Linux monitoring in Operations Manager: Linux monitoring has been significantly improved with the addition of a customizable FluentD-based Linux agent. Linux log file monitoring is now on par with that of Windows Server (Yes, we heard you! Kick the tires, it really works).
  • Improved web console experience in Operations Manager: The System Center Operations Manager web console is now built on HTML5 for a better experience and support across browsers.
    Updates and recommendations for third-party Management Packs: System Center Operations Manager has been extended to support the discovery and update of third-party MPs.
  • Faster, cost-effective VMware backup: Using our Modern Backup Storage technology in Data Protection Manager, customers can backup VMware VMs faster and cut storage costs by up to 50%.
  • And much more including Linux Kerberos support and improved UI responsiveness when dealing with many management packs in Operations Manager. In Virtual Machine Manager, we have enabled SLB guest cluster floating IP support, added Storage QoS at VMM cloud, added Storage QoS extended to SAN storage, enabled Remote to VMs in Enhanced Session mode, added seamless update of non-domain host agent, and made host Refresher up to 10X faster.

You can get System Center, version 1801 from the Evaluation Center or the Volume Licensing Service Center.

Microsoft Exam 70-745

Passed Microsoft Exam 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter

This summer I took the Microsoft beta exam 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter, which focuses on implementing Software-Defined Datacenter solutions, based on Hyper-V, Windows Server, Software Defined Networking and Storage, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, System Center Operations Manager and everything around it.

  • Plan and Implement System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) Core Infrastructure
  • Implement Software-Defined Networking (SDN)
  • Implement Software-Defined Storage
  • Implement Datacenter Compute Solutions with Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)
  • Secure your Software-Defined Datacenter
  • Monitor and Maintain the Software-Defined Datacenter

Passing Exam 745: Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter validates the skills and knowledge to implement a software-defined datacenter (SDDC) with Windows Server 2016 and Microsoft System Center 2016 Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). Candidates have experience implementing and managing highly available SCVMM infrastructures as well as implementing software-defined storage, compute, and networking components.

This week I finally got the message that I passed the Beta exam. If you want to take that exam you should really be familiar with the products and solutions mentioned above, otherwise you will have a hard time passing the exam.

If you want to know more about the exam, check out this link: Microsoft Learning Exam 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter

Also big congrats to all the others who passed the exam like Charbel Nemnom.

Microsoft Azure Backup Agent

Download the Azure Backup Agent

Microsoft works heavily on their Microsoft Azure Recovery Services and releases new features for its Azure Backup software. Some of these new features need a new version of the Azure Backup Agent, or MARS Agent, to work.

Now if you install a new recovery vault in Azure to get started with Azure Backup you will find a link to download the Azure Backup Agent or sometimes you will see warnings in the Azure Backup MMC console with a link to a newer version of the Azure Backup Agent. But if you just want to download the latest MARS Agent, sometimes it is pretty hard to find, so let me help you with this link:

Download Azure Backup Agent

You can also use that file to updated an existing Azure Backup Agent.

By the way, Microsoft Azure Backup now supports Windows System State Backups to Azure.

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2017

My impressions from Microsoft Ignite 2017

Okay, I know, Microsoft Ignite 2017 was already a couple of weeks ago. But still, I finally had time to write about my impressions from Microsoft Ignite, after the conference plus my visit in Seattle for the Intelligent Cloud Architect Bootcamp and spending my days in meetings and back at work in Switzerland. Since there is a lot of stuff and important changes coming, I think it is still valid to write about my impressions.

First, I have to say Orlando is great, I really loved spending my time there. This was my second Microsoft Ignite after the first one in Chicago. I have to say, it was very well organized and organizing such a huge conference is definitely not easy.

The Speaking part…

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2017 Theater

I had the great opportunity to speak in several Microsoft Ignite sessions and this was huge fun. It is always fun for me to stand in front of a couple of people and show them some stuff I am working on. I not only had the chance to do my Theather session about “Lessons learned from deploying Windows Server 2016”, I also spoke in two breakout sessions about our customer cases focusing on System Center and Storage Spaces Direct.

The Networking part…

One of the most important parts of such a conference is networking with others. The point is that all the videos are going to be online available for later review, but you get time to meet with people from Microsoft, customers and partners, and talk, share and learn from them. The connections you make at such a conference will be helpful in the future, trust me…

The Learning part…

One of the main reasons for me to attend, was to learn. Not only learn about the latest and greatest technology, but also about where the industry is heading. I believe that our industry is heading to one of the biggest changes in history since the transition from Mainframes to client server topology. I think this is not new to most of us, but what is interesting and something I underestimated is, how fast that transition will be going forward. Cloud Computing, AI, Big Data, IoT and modern applications are going to be big topics in the future and technologies like containers and methods like DevOps are going to accelerate this change. My lesson learned from these events is that we all in the industry have to learn much faster and be ready to adapt to change much quicker.

With that, I hope to see you soon at other conferences and events or again at Microsoft Ignite on September 24 – 28 in Orlando, Florida.

Project Honolulu Server Overview

Microsoft Project Honolulu – The new Windows Server Management Experience

Last week Microsoft introduced the world to Project Honolulu, which is the codename for a new Windows Server management experience. Project “Honolulu” is a flexible, locally-deployed, browser-based management platform and tools to manage Windows Server locally and remote.

Microsoft today launched the Hololulu Technical Preview for the world, I had the chance to already work with Microsoft during the last couple of months in a private preview. Project Honolulu helps you to managed your servers remotely as a new kind of Server Manager. This is especially handy if you run Windows Server Core, which I think is the new black, after Microsoft announced that Nano Server is only gonna live as a Container Image with the next version of Windows Server.

Project Honolulu took many features for the Azure Server Management Tools which were hosted in Azure, and allowed you to manage your servers in the cloud and on-premise. But the Feedback was simple, People wanted to install the Management expierence on-prem, without the dependency to Microsoft Azure. Microsoft listened to the feedback and delivered the with Project Honolulu a web-based management solution, which you can install on your own servers.

Honolulu Management Experience

Project Honolulu Server Overview

Project Honolulu has different solutions which give you different functionality. In the technical preview there are three solutions available, Server Manager, Failover Cluster Manager and Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager.

Server Manager

The server manager lets you is kind of like the Server Manager you know from Windows Server, but it also replaces some local only tools like Network Management, Process, Device Manger, Certificate and User Management, Windows Update and so on. The Server Manager Solution also adds management of Virtual Machines, Virtual Switches and Storage Replica.

Failover Cluster Manager

As you might think, this allows you to manage Failover Clusters.

Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager

The Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager is very interesting if you are running Storage Spaces Direct clusters in a Hyper-Converged design, where Hyper-V Virtual Machines run on the same hosts. This allows you to do management of the S2D cluster as well as some performance metrics.

Honolulu Topology

Project Honolulu On-Premise Architecture

Project Honolulu leverages a three-tier architecture, a web server displaying web UI using HTML, a gateway service and the managed nodes. The web interface talks to the gateway service using REST APIs and the gateway connected to the managed nodes using WinRM and PowerShell remoting (Similar like the Azure Management Tools).

Project Honolulu On-Premise and Public Cloud Architecture

You can basically access the Web UI from every machine running modern browsers like Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. If you publish the webserver to the internet, you can also manage it remotely from everywhere. The installation and configuration of Project Honolulu is straight forward, but If you want to know more about the installation check out, my friend and Microsoft MVP colleague, Charbel Nemnom’s blog post about Project Honolulu.

Project Honolulu Gateways Service can be installed on:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016

You can manage:

  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016 and higher


In my opinion Microsoft Project Honolulu provides us with the Windows Server Management Tool we need so much. It helps us to manage our servers from a centralized HTML5 web application, and really makes management of GUI less servers easy. Deployment and configuration is very easy and simple and doesn’t take a lot of effort, while drastically removing the need to locally logon to a server for management reasons. I hope with that we will see a higher deployment of Windows Server Core installations, since we don’t need the GUI on every single server anymore.

You can download the Project Honolulu Technical Preview here: Project Honolulu Technical Preview

You can give feedback to Project Honolulu here: User Voice Project Honolulu


Windows Server Software-Defined Datacenter Solutions

I am sure you have heard already about the great new improvements of Windows Server 2016 which launched almost a year ago. Especially features like Hyper-V, Storage Spaces Direct, Storage Replica and the Software-Defined Networking part got some great updates and new features. Windows Server delivers a great foundation for your Software-Defined Datacenter.

  • Compute – Hyper-V delivers a highly scalable, resilient and secure virtualization platform.
  • Storage – Storage Spaces Direct (S2D), Storage Replica and ReFS file system improvements, deliver a affordable high-performance software-defined storage solution
  • Network – The new Windows Server Software-Defined Networking v2 stack, delivers a high performance and large scale networking solution for your datacenter

However, deploying a Software-Defined Datacenter can be challenging and expensive. The Microsoft Software-Defined Datacenter certification allows you to simplify deployment and operations with a certified partner solutions. I have worked on a couple of deployments and building complex solutions can be expensive and time consuming. The Microsoft Software-Defined Datacenter certification allows you to have a pre-validated solution which result in faster deployment times, accelerated the time to value, a more reliable solution and optimized performance.

Windows Server Software-Defined Solutions WSSD

Microsoft is working with different partners like DataOn, Dell EMC, Fujitsu, HPE, Lenovo, Quanta (QCT) and SuperMicro to deliver these solutions. Partners offer an array of Windows Server Software-Defined (WSSD) solutions that work with Window Server 2016 to deliver high-performance storage or hyper-converged infrastructure. Hyper-converged solutions bring together compute, storage, and networking on industry-standard servers and components, which means organizations can gain improved datacenter intelligence and control while avoiding the costs of specialized high-end hardware.

Three types of Windows Server Software-Defined (WSSD) solutions

These partners offer three types of Windows Server Software-Defined (WSSD) solutions:

  • Software Defined Storage (SDS) – Enterprise-grade shared storage solution built on server node clusters replaces traditional SAN/NAS at a much lower cost. Organizations can quickly add storage capacity as needs grow over time. Support for all-flash NVMe drives delivers unrivaled performance.
  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Standard – Highly virtualized compute and storage are combined in the same server node cluster, making them easier to deploy, manage, and scale. By eliminating traditional IT compute, storage, and networking silos, you can simplify your infrastructure.
  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Premium – Comprehensive “software-defined datacenter in a box” adds Software-Defined Networking and Security Assurance features to HCI Standard. This makes it easy to scale compute, storage, and networking up and down to meet demand just like public cloud services.

Windows Server Software-Defined solution features comparison

These three types offer different features depending on your needs.

Windows Server Software-Defined Solution

If you are thinking do build your next software-defined datacenter or private cloud, I recommend that you have a look at these solutions. Find a partner at

Download a white paper about Microsoft hyper-converged technologies

Read a datasheet about the Windows Server Software Defined partner program

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